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Detroit Children's Museum Reopens For Detroit Public Schools, District Severs Contract With Science Center

Detroit Childrens Museum

First Posted: 01/27/2012 4:47 pm Updated: 01/27/2012 5:15 pm

Just three weeks after the Detroit Children's Museum abruptly announced it would close due to lack of funding, the museum is once again open -- but only to Detroit Public Schools students.

The school district, which owns the Children's Museum but has not managed it since 2009, severed its contract with the debt-ridden Detroit Science Center, which had been operating the museum since 2010.

Student groups from DPS will now be able to use the museum 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The district is still working to make the institution available to the public, though DPS Chief Communications Officer Steve Wasko said the first priority was making the museum available for students. He hopes the museum will resume public programming by summer, but there is no set timeline.

Roughly $400,000 in federal funding goes to DPS to support their use of the Children's Museum each year. That funding that will continue to support student programming at the museum going forward.

The district's own financial difficulties led DPS to close the museum in 2009. A year later, the district sought an arrangement with the Detroit Science Center to operate the museum. An agreement gave DSC the authority to manage the Children's Museum for 10 years, and was supposed to save the school district nearly $12 million.

But DSC faced its own share of financial problems and closed its doors in September. There are currently no plans to reopen, though U.S. State Representative Hansen Clarke is currently seeking federal funds to keep the Science Center out of foreclosure.

DSC had also been using federal dollars to keep the Children's Museum open. When DSC announced it would close the Children's Museum, DPS objected saying that as the museum's owner, only the district had the authority to close it.

The Children's Museum will continue to be staffed by its original employees, who are now contracted with DPS.

"These are very dedicated individuals who know the museum very well and went above and beyond the call of duty in the last few months," Wasko said.

When the museum closed earlier this month, supporters took to Twitter to share their disappointment:


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Filed by Kate Abbey-Lambertz  |